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05 April 2022

New Justice Agenda highlights urgent priorities

Law Society’s Justice Agenda highlights urgent priorities for incoming Justice Minister

The Law Society of Northern Ireland, the professional body for the solicitor profession, is urging the new Executive to ensure Access to Justice is a priority after the 5 May elections. 

The ‘Justice Agenda 2022’ launched today calls on elected representatives to commit to sustainable and realistic investment to fix the issues that have long plagued Northern Ireland’s Justice system.

The ‘Justice Agenda’ sets out 10 strategic priorities that require urgent attention, including:

·         Protecting the Legal Aid Budget - a ring-fenced budget of not less than £82 million is necessary to protect Access to Justice for our most vulnerable citizens.

·         Closing the Access to Justice Gap – the financial eligibility thresholds for civil legal aid are now 13 years out of date. These must be increased to ensure those on lower incomes have their rights protected.

·         Court Recovery – It is estimated that Northern Ireland’s Crown Court case backlog will extend past 2027.  Urgent investment and reform of our Courts must be prioritised to prevent further harm being caused to victims and witnesses.

The Law Society is also calling for progress to address Legacy issues and measures to support economic recovery.

Commenting on the launch of the Justice Agenda 2022, President of the Law Society of Northern Ireland, Brigid Napier said:

“I am pleased to launch the Justice Agenda today to outline the priorities for rebuilding our justice system which, like so many areas of life, is still recovering from the pandemic. As society faces an unprecedented cost of living crisis, it is more important than ever that those in power protect our most vulnerable by ensuring they have Access to Justice.”

“The Law Society is committed to working constructively with the incoming Executive and the next Justice Minister to ensure we have a system that is fit for purpose. Access to Justice must be at the centre of the next Programme for Government and the aim must be to deliver the Justice system that the people of Northern Ireland deserve.”

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